Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

March is National Nutrition Month. Sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the purpose of this month is to educate about the importance of good nutrition, encourage the development of healthy habits, and promote an active lifestyle. In honor of this month, consider adding more fruits and vegetables to your daily food intake.

You may know that eating more fruits and vegetables is good for your health, but do you know how good.

Health Benefits of Eating Fruits and Vegetables

As we continue to learn more about the benefits of fruits and vegetables,
nutrition specialists now believe that what you need is based on your age, gender, activity level, and the number of calories you need each day. For example, a moderately active woman, age 50 or less should eat 2 cups of fruits and 2.5 cups of vegetables each day to maintain good health.

Some of the many
benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables are they lower your risks of heart disease, stroke and cancer, and promote good eye health. Fruits and vegetables are full of essential nutrients like potassium, fiber, and vitamins A and C, to name a few. Fruits and vegetables are also lower in calories than refined or processed foods.

Weight Loss and Maintenance Benefits of Eating Fruits and Vegetables

Because fruits and vegetables have fewer calories but more water and fiber than processed foods, you feel fuller and eat less. A good idea is to substitute high calorie, less nutrient rich foods like chips for a piece of fruit. The serving size of the chips and fruit may be the same, say 80 calories, but the apple is full of water, fiber, vitamins and minerals and will keep you fuller longer.

Incorporating More Fruits and Vegetables Into Your Daily Routine

Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is usually the best and tastiest way to enjoy them, but canned and frozen vegetables may have just as many nutrients as fresh. This is good news for those living in communities that cannot easily access fresh fruits and vegetables or find the price of fresh fruits and vegetables too expensive. And adding more fresh, canned or frozen fruits and vegetables to the meals you regularly prepare is quite easy. For example,
  1. Add a grated zucchini (skin and all) to your meatballs. It adds moisture and depth of flavor without tasting like a green vegetable. You can do this with any vegetable you can grate.
  2. Substitute one layer of ground beef for a layer of zucchini, spinach or broccoli to your go to lasagna recipe
  3. Bake a sweet potato instead of a white potato. Any way you cook a white potato, you can cook a sweet potato. Also, sweet potatoes have much more Vitamin A and C than white potatoes
  4. Combine a package of frozen mixed vegetables, with one can of diced tomatoes and frozen or fresh shrimp
  5. Add more beans and vegetables than meat to your chili and stews
Eating more fruits and vegetables regularly can improve your health, help you maintain or lose weight, and is easier to do than you think.
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